The CBO recently released its latest estimates of the distribution of household income, as of 2013. I've extracted some of the data, which I show in the charts below.
The chart above shows the share of federal income taxes paid by those whose income put them in the top 1%, 5%, 10%, and 25% of total income earned. The top 25% of income earners paid almost 90% of all federal income taxes in 2013. (Equally impressive is the fact that the top 1% of income earners paid about 25% of total federal taxes—income, capital gains, social security, and inheritance—that same year.) The chart also shows the top tax rate bracket for each year. Note that the top tax rate has declined significantly over the years, yet the share of total taxes paid by top income earners has increased significantly. This might be called the Laffer Curve in action: tax something less and you will get more of it.
The chart above shows the share of total income earned by the top 1%, 5%, 10%, and 25% of income earners. Note that these income shares have not increased at all since 2000. Income inequality is not exploding.
The chart above shows the average tax rate paid by income percentiles. The calculation is total federal taxes paid divided by market income (labor plus capital-derived income) and transfers received. The top 1% paid almost 35% of their income in federal taxes in 2013 (the highest rate recorded by this study since 1979), whereas those on the bottom of the income distribution paid only 3%. For those in the bottom quintile, transfer payments represented almost 75% of their total income, whereas transfer payments represented only 0.7% of the total income of the top 1%.
Don't let anyone tell you that the rich don't pay their fair share of taxes.
UPDATE: Mark Perry has an extensive post ("CBO study shows that ‘the rich’ don’t just pay a ‘fair share’ of federal taxes, they pay almost everybody’s share") which adds lots of fascinating detail to the discussion. Including this important tidbit: "... the US has the most progressive federal tax system among all OECD-24 countries." And this:
When the top 20% of US households are financing 96% of the transfer payments to the bottom 60% and financing almost the entire non-financed operating budget of the federal government, I’d say “the rich” are paying beyond their fair share of the total tax burden